A senior official at the environment watchdog Monday vowed to
mete out equally harsh punishments to domestic and foreign-funded
firms that violate environmental laws.
Ren Longjiang, an official with the State Environmental
Protection Administration (SEPA), said all enterprises must obey
environmental laws and regulations.
He made the marks after Unilever China and the China branch of
Hitachi Construction Machinery Co, the only two foreign-funded
companies targeted in a random inspection by the environmental
watchdog earlier this year, were found discharging more wastewater
"We were surprised to find both companies had pollution problems
as they were the only two foreign companies selected at random for
the inspection," Ren said.
"Environmental pollution caused by foreign-funded companies has
come to the attention of SEPA, and we will strengthen our
supervision," Ren told the Xinhua News Agency.
On May 24, a SEPA inspection team found that Unilever's plant in
Hefei, Anhui Province, had discharged wastewater with a chemical
oxygen demand (COD) of 379 mg per liter. The legal limit for this
measure of organic pollutants is 330 mg/l. The company is part of a
multinational group that produces soap, shampoo and other
The company was fined 100,000 yuan ($13,000) and ordered to
scale back production to discharge less wastewater. Unilever has
also paid fees of 47,136 yuan for excessive discharges.
During the same inspection, the China branch of Hitachi
Construction Machinery CO, which is also located in Hefei, was
found to have discharged wastewater with PH values - a measure of
acidity or alkalinity - exceeding the legal limit.
In response to such problems, environmental officials and
experts called for a cumulative daily penalty system to be included
in the water pollution prevention law, which is being amended and
received its first review last month.
"The daily penalty system could effectively solve the problem of
the high cost of compliance with the law, but negligible
penalties," said Zhang Jianyu, program manager of the Beijing
office of Environmental Defense, a US-based environmental
(China Daily September 18, 2007)